THE RESOLUTION OF THE LEGISLATIVE SEJM OF 20 FEBRUARY 1919 PROVIDING FOR THE CONTINUED EXERCISE BY JÓZEF PILSUDSKI OF THE OFFICE OF THE HEAD OF STATE
Selected contents from this journal
Languages of publication
The return of Józef Pilsudski from German prison and the decisions of the Regency Council formally handing power over to him and, then, granting to him the whole military power in the country marked the beginning of the reconstruction of an independent Polish state. The first legislative act concerning the system of government (i.e. the Decree of 22 November 1918 on the supreme representative authority in the Republic of Poland) was drawn by Piłsudski who, became a Provisional Head of State. He was given the entire civil and military powers to be exercised until the election of a parliament. The parliament was to adopt a new constitution. However, prior to that, the Legislative Sejm adopted another provisional act. The resolution of the Legislative Sejm of 20 February 1919 providing for the continued exercise by Pilsudski of the office of the head of state was composed of two parts: in the first one the Sejm took cognizance of the declaration by Pilsudski about his resignation from office to the Sejm and expressed gratitude for his previous activity. In the second part, the Chamber entrusted Pilsudski with the continued exercise of the office, at the same time specifying the 'principles' of such exercise. The Legislative Sejm was made a 'sovereign and highest authority', while the Head of State was given the status of a 'representative of the State' being 'the supreme executor of the resolutions adopted by the Sejm on civil and military matters'. He was given the power to appoint 'a government in its entire composition based on agreement with the Sejm'. Both the Head of State and the government were accountable to the Sejm for 'the exercise of the office' and a signature of an appropriate minister was required for validity of any official act (the so-called state act) issued by the Head of State. In the opinion of the Polish constitutionalists of the pre-war period (such as Waclaw Komarnicki), as well as constitutional law historians after WW II (including, in particular, Michal Pietrzak and Andrzej Ajnenkiel), this act was quickly prepared and imperfectly constructed from the point of view of legislative standards and - according to the intention of its authors - was to be a provisional solution. The resolution implemented a system based on a superior position of parliament. However, the practice strengthened the position of the Head of State in his relations with the constituent assembly. As a Commander-in-Chief, Pilsudski retained full control over the army and was able to substantially influence foreign policy of successive governments. What was the most important, was that as a result of his actions, Pilsudski led to the situation in which each newly formed government had to gain confidence of both the Legislative Sejm and the Head of State. Comparing the events during the first years after regaining independence in Poland with the situation of its neighbours, especially those that at that time appeared in the map of Europe as independent states, we can find some regularities. Provisional acts concerning the system of government were created in two phases: first, preceding the setting up of the constituent assembly and the second - by virtue of decisions of the constituent assembly itself (given at that time the highest place within the branches of power). The provisions of provisional constitutional acts, based on the principle of supremacy of the legislature, very often substantially influenced the solutions of 'regular' constitutions. .
Publication order reference
CEJSH db identifier